Judge Denies Leavitt's Claim That One-Drug Lethal Injection is Cruel and Unusual


Richard Albert Leavitt has been denied a preliminary injunction regarding Idaho's new method of lethal injection, in effect sustaining Leavitt's scheduled execution for Tuesday, June 12.

In a 55-page order handed down today, U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge denied Leavitt's challenge of the new execution method, a single, lethal dose of the surgical sedative pentobarbital. The single-drug method is different from the November 2011 execution, when Paul Ezra Rhoades was injected with a three-drug mixture.

Leavitt joined three other death-row prisoners—Thomas Creech, James Hairston and Gene Stuart—in challenging the new protocol. Lodge agreed to consider Leavitt's case quickly due to his scheduled execution. Lodge said the other three inmates' "briefing schedule has been un-altered to allow them additional time to address a pending Motion of Dismiss" from the State of Idaho.

The inmates claimed that the one-drug lethal injection protocol posed "a substantial risk of serious pain, violating their rights against cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment."

But Lodge granted the State of Idaho's motion to dismiss Leavitt's claim and denied Leavitt's injunction seeking a stay of execution.

Leavitt was convicted of first-degree murder for the stabbing death of Deanette Elg in Blackfoot. He was first sentenced to death in 1985 and following a remand from the Idaho Supreme Court, was resentenced to death in 1990. Leavitt sought relief from his conviction and death sentence in state and federal court for the next 22 years, but to no avail.

You can read Lodge's full ruling here. execution_ruling.pdf